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Arkansas FORMAT Fest delivers on its promise to mix art, music and technology -

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Bentonville, Arkansas may not tell most people anything, but this weekend the town hosted a major music, arts and technology festival: FORMAT. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

Bentonville is home to Walmart, and over the past ten years the Walton family has done everything possible to invest in the growing area, from paving mountain bike trails to creating Crystal Bridges, a museum of world-class art. Why not organize a festival of music, arts and technology in town?

The brains of Roya Sachs, curator and creative director, and Mafalda Millies, creative director at C3 Presents – which produced Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, among other festivals – FORMAT has been taken over by the Walton family after four years in development .

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“The team met Olivia, Tom and Stuart Walton who are very invested in expanding the cultural landscape of the region. What they have already done is completely unbelievable,” Sachs said. ART news recently. “The population there has doubled in the last 20 years, it is changing rapidly. It’s really interesting to be in a market that is molding itself, because allowing you to be part of that mold actually allows you to have more impact in the region and in the future of its prospects.

Almost every musician who has played, from Moses Sumney and Phoenix to War on Drugs, has commented on being surprised to be in Arkansas.

“We will never have the same people in the same audience again, that energy will never happen again, we will never see each other again, especially not in Arkansas,” Sumney said onstage, before introducing one of his latest songs. . “Or maybe we will!”

Visual artists involved in the festival, including Doug Aitken, John Gerrard, Nick Cave, Pia Camil and Studio Drift, were also surprised, but attracted by the idea of ​​showing their work in an underexplored corner of America.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom, 2017

Charles Reagan Hackleman

“It’s hard to take the work out of its normal context and we’re not big fans of it either. But, for this occasion, we made an exception,” said Lucas Van Oostrum, co-founder of Studio Drift, which makes works using drones and became popular after its 2021 “Fragile Future” exhibition at the The Shed of New York. ART news.

“If you go to the east coast, the west coast, you see art everywhere,” Van Oostrum said. “The beauty of the work we do is that it transmits freedom to its visitors, it is not confined by the white space of the gallery or museum, so it is important for us to show the work off the beaten path beaten.”

Studio Drift and French indie pop band Phoenix collaborated during the band’s performance on Saturday. Towards the end of their set, they slipped into an instrumental song, and thousands of blue lights were released into the night sky. The light changed color and began to swarm softly, imitating the murmur of starlings. At the end of the show, a man in the crowd said to his friend, “Now this was music, art and technology.

This work, Franchise freedom, was first developed by Studio Drift in 2017 and was shown at Art Basel and later at NASA. Setting up the room for a music festival took some delicacy.

Van Oostrum appreciated that when it was time to organize how the work would be shown alongside the musical performance, a space was consciously created during the set so that people could focus on Franchise freedom and not on stage.

Boris Acket, Waaiwerken2021

Boris Acket, another Dutch artist who presented works at the festival, also felt supported.

“I’ve done a lot of festivals and you often end up as decoration, more or less,” Acket said. ART news as he watched his massive hunk Waaiwerken [WindWorks] (2021). For the artwork, 538 square feet of a special aluminum fabric was strung along a thread and floated serenely in the wind, almost as if in slow motion. The fabric is one of the lightest in the world and its total length weighed only 44 pounds, but to keep the yarn perfectly taut, several tons of concrete blocks were moved around to anchor the scaffolding of the piece. He gestured in front of all the space his work occupied.

“This space could have been suitable for another scene, there could be music here, more bands, but they did that instead,” Acket said.